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My First Batch (Questions)

I just brewed my first batch of the Caribou Slobber three days ago. I placed the primary fermenter in my basement where it’s roughly 65 degrees. Within 12 hours I noticed bubbles in the airlock. I’m on day three now and the bubbles happen every 60 - 90 seconds and the krausen has mostly subsided. Since this is my first time brewing I have a few questions regarding what I’m seeing during fermentation.

    1. Is it normal for the krausen to subside so quickly? 2. The recipe calls for a 1-2 week primary fermentation. Since the krausen has subsided so quickly, should I leave it for 1 or 2 weeks? Is there any harm if I leave it the full 2 weeks?

Thanks.

Do you have a means to be able to check the gravity? I typically don’t touch my beers, including a gravity check, until after a week.

Welcome to a great hobby, and congrats on your first brew.

The rate of fermentation depends on a lot of factors, the most important ones being the health of the yeast and the temperature of the fermenting wort. Higher temperatures lead to faster fermentations, but also can lead to off flavors in the finished beer. With a room temperature of 66F, you are at the higher end of where you want to be for most ale yeasts; 60 would be a better place to aim for in the future. It sounds like the beer is acting normally. You do want to leave it the full two weeks though. After the most active stage of the fermentation is over, the yeast spend another week or so cleaning up any by products they produced when consuming the sugars, and then you want to give them time to settle out of solution to the bottom of the vessel. That allows you to syphon clear beer into your bottling bucket.

Dave,

I got the kit for Christmas and wanted to make a batch right away. So no, I don’t yet have a way to measure the gravity. I plan on getting a hydrometer/ Brix in the future.

No worries. The advice presented by rebuilt above is sold. Wait two weeks and then consider bottling. In the mean time get another beer planned so that you fill up the pipeline!

Thanks for the great info., rebuiltcellars. I’ll be sure to keep the temp in mind for my second batch. I’ve already ordered more supplies so I can brew multiple batches. I can see this is going to be a dangerous hobby/ obsession.

Dave,

I was planning on doing a secondary fermentation. Should I still wait the two weeks and rack to a secondary fermenter for 2 - 4 weeks? The recipe calls for 1-2 weeks primary, and 2-4 secondary.

Hi michaeld. I’m the other Dave. Welcome to the hobby! I think you’ll love it.

You don’t need to do a secondary “fermentation”. Many/most homebrewers these days just leave the beer in primary fermentation until it’s done, then go straight to the bottle. There are lots of disadvantages to racking to secondary, including oxygenation, possible contamination, general waste of time, etc. There are very few if any advantages to secondary. When you see that the airlock is no longer bubbling at all anymore (probably within the next couple of days), then wait at least another 3 days if not 4 days just to make absolutely sure that the fermentation is complete, and then you should be able to safely bottle. No need to waste another 2-4 weeks of your life for no advantage.

Cheers! :cheers:

Hello. I’m not a Dave and I do disagree with the both of them when it comes to secondary. I have personal experience that MY beer clears better with secondary. My suggestion, do a beer twice, one with just primary and one with secondary and see what works for your beer (it helps if its a lighter beer as a darker beer is hard to tell).

Thanks Dave and Loopie for the responses. Since I’m new to this and trying to learn, my question is why do so many people use secondary fermentation? Is the main/ only reason clarity? Thanks.

Mike

[quote=“michaeld”]Thanks Dave and Loopie for the responses. Since I’m new to this and trying to learn, my question is why do so many people use secondary fermentation? Is the main/ only reason clarity? Thanks.

Mike[/quote]
There are many ways to make good beer, and to some extent what works best for you depends on what equipment you have and what process you follow.

The use of a secondary comes from the commercial brewing world, where it is important to get the beer off the yeast quickly, but you still need to let the beer settle out the bulk of the suspended particles before it is filtered. The standard practice for homebrewers use to be to copy the commercial process as much as possible, but that has started to change as brewers have realized that best practices for producing a 5 gallon batch is not necessarily the same as it is for producing a 5000 gallon batch.

That said, depending on the yeast and the fermentation process, the beer can clear faster if you use a secondary, and some claim the final clarity is better as well, if you use a secondary. I personally have not found that to be the case with my process and my equipment, but it could be for others.

This is one of the fun things about this hobby; you get to experiment and find what works best for you.

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Thanks all for the suggestions. I look forward to trying different experiments.

When I switched to 10gal batches I was using 2 carboys to ferment. I always did secondaries and thought I would see if it was worth it. So in several batches from a kolsch to a couple different pale ales to a stout I would transfer 1 carboy to secondary and leave 1 in primary. ALL my secondaries cleared better and quicker, although I must admit it was difficult to tell on the stout. However, I would pour trub out of the secondary. I then realized that at the very least this wasn’t making it into the keg.

So to sum it up, beers cleared quicker for me and less trub made it into keg.

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